STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE

Oman 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Hilal Al-Qamshoey, Project Director of Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS), on the importance of addressing the challenges to growth, assessing potential, and attracting greater FDI.

Dr. Hilal Al-Qamshoey
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Hilal Al-Qamshoey joined the Supreme Council for Planning after 15 years in the oil and gas sector where he held several positions including technical advisory, business planning, project and engineering management roles. He has been heading the Oman National Spatial Strategy project at the Supreme Council for Planning since January 2016.

What does ONSS consist of, and how is it aligned with the Sultanate's 2040 vision?

The Sultanate of Oman has gone through a spectacular process of transformation and nation building since the early 1970s following the ascension of His Majesty the Sultan to the throne. In this extremely short period of time, Oman has achieved a remarkable improvement in its social and economic conditions. However, the country is now confronted with a number of complex challenges that require the careful attention of leaders and planners. These include the depletion of oil and gas reserves, scarcity of water, need to diversify the economy and employment, and development of human resources of Omani nationals. These challenges need multifaceted and profound changes in planning approaches and interventions. The Sultanate is addressing these issues in various ways. One of the responses has been the idea of creating a National Spatial Strategy, which aims to address the spatial dimension of challenges that have accumulated over the last decades, mainly as a result of the tremendous pace of growth. The main objective of the strategy is to develop a framework to guide sustainable development in the national and regional levels for the next 20-30 years. It will also function as a guideline and framework for all regional and sectoral strategies (e.g. five-year economic plans) and will establish the mechanisms by means of an institutional and legal planning framework and capacity building to ensure that the strategy is implemented and kept up to date. As part of the ONSS, the regional spatial strategies for each governorate in the Sultanate will be elaborated. Each regional spatial strategy will comprise a single development plan with related regulatory instruments at the local level. The regional spatial strategies will be important building blocks of the ONSS and aim to integrate them into one national strategy with one vision, regulatory instrument, and tool for implementation.

To what extent are certain sectors of the economy prioritized within ONSS in order to increase efficiency and development?

Economic development is a crucial part of this strategy. We are currently at the stage of evaluating and assessing the potential for every region in Oman to help increase contribution to GDP and create economic opportunities in the region. Analysis of the competitive advantage of every region in Oman will support the decisions on what economic sectors are required to develop and where.

How will foreign investors benefit from the ONSS?

For investors, it is extremely important to know what the spatial policies are for the long term, both in the whole country and in the governorates. After all, investors will put their money in all kinds of real estate. Their return on investments and future value depend heavily on the right location and the expected developments in the neighborhood. A well-guided spatial strategy is also of importance for offering sufficient space for the growth ambitions of the private sector and to attract new foreign business. This will contribute to a more competitive and attractive country.

What are the main objectives for the program in 2018?

Our goal is to complete the project and have the strategy document finalized by mid-2019. In 2018, we will develop and present various possible spatial development options on the national level to the various stakeholders; through a national debate workshop, the preferred option will be selected.